Russia, Out in the Cold
On Wednesday this week, the United States government signed agreements with Estonia and Latvia allowing their citizens to travel to the United States without visas, since their countries allow Americans to do the same and since they maintain friendly and cooperative relations with the world's only superpower. These two Baltic countries now join Czech Republic and Slovenia as former Soviet-bloc states that now have the warmest possible relations with the United States. Many more are sure to follow along this path (read the DOS standards here).
And Russia? Russia seems to desire exactly the opposite status, encouraging the U.S. to see Russia as an enemy nation against which it must struggle, along with the likes of Iran and Venezuela. This is perhaps not surprising since one of the most important reasons that countries like Estonia actively seek friendship with the U.S. is their stark terror of neo-Soviet Russian imperialism. The Putin regime has not only alienated the powerful United States, but almost every former Soviet bloc state as well. Russians seem blissfully unaware of the fact that even as they worry about NATO's designs on Russia, the former Soviet states are even more nervous about the dangers the Kremlin presents to them. It seems that the people of Russia could care less about that.
Last Saturday, an editorial in the Washington Post presciently called upon NATO to expedite the admission of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and urged the Bush administration to press the issue at the upcoming summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania. The Post's editors argued:
Russia's repeated and heavy-handed maneuvers in and against Ukraine and Georgia in the past several years have dramatically demonstrated Moscow's ambition to destroy those countries' freedom and independence. Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent threat to target Ukraine with nuclear weapons should have been a wake-up call for any Western government that doubted whether Kiev needed defending.As we report below Senator Richard Lugar, dean of U.S. foreign policy, issued a scathing denunciation of NATO for daring to invite Vladimir Putin to attend the summit. He stated: "To invite President Putin into this situation, I suspect, is to give him a meeting in which he intimidates [Ukraine and Georgia] further. In this context, this seems to be very dubious."
When the liberal Post and conservative Lugar agree, you know that America has reached consensus: Russia is a dangerous enemy that menaces the U.S. at every opportunity, and we must now awaken to the need to fight and win a new Cold War.
And let's be clear: These are not some rogue actions of monsters in the Kremlin who are simply victimizing the people of Russia as much as the West. That tired myth was busted long ago, when Russians voted overwhelmingly to hand absolute power to a proud KGB spy. The Ghanian student who was brutally stabbed and the Uzbek who was murdered in St. Petersburg this week weren't attacked by the government but by Russian citizens, while others turned their backs and did nothing. There will be no broad public outcry, no editorials of denunciation in leading newspapers or on TV.
The people of Russia are utterly complicit in all these acts, they are themselves part of the problem. Unless they immediately take responsibility, when these neo-Soviet chickens come home to roost, the people of Russia will have only themselves to blame.